How to Become an Minister

CHOOSE A PROGRAM
Sponsored Schools

4 Steps to Becoming an Minister

Step 1 Earn a bachelor’s degree

Ministers are required to have a deep understanding of Biblical doctrine, the role of the church, and the philosophy and history of religion. In order to get this education, pastors are required to earn a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, religious education, or theology. While in these programs, students take courses in the mystery of God, world religions, religious ethics, marriage and the church, and the Old and New Testaments.

Step 2 Complete a master’s degree

Generally, churches expect ministers to hold a master’s degree in divinity in order to get employment. These programs are designed to teach students about the rigors of being a church leader and how to handle the responsibility to their congregation and community. Coursework covers writing and delivering sermons, transformational leadership, theological aesthetics, conducting worship services, and political theology.

Step 3 Become ordained

In order to have religious authority in a church, aspiring ministers must undergo the ordination process. Standards for becoming ordained depend on the specific religious denomination. Some churches may require written or oral examinations, while others expect ministers to volunteer at the church for a certain amount of time.

Step 4 Get certified.

Earning a certification can improve your skills and make you a more marketable candidate. Potential certifications include certified applications professional, Cloudera certified professional: data scientist, EMC: data science associate and SAS certified predictive modeler using SAS Enterprise Miner 7.

Step 5 Obtain a license

Some states require ministers to obtain a license in order to work for a church. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so future ministers should find out what is expected of them.

FAQ on Earning Your Minister Degree

  • Yes. There are many types of religious denominations, so those that don’t have a preference should learn about them and determine which one they connect with most. This can be done by taking courses during college, as well as volunteering for different kinds of churches.

  • It depends on the denomination they are a part of. Some ministry boards require pastors to complete continuing education courses through their church or a professional religious organization.

  • Ministers are required to connect with their community, and one way they can do this is by maintaining social media pages. This allows them to communicate with parishioners about what’s going on in the church, as well as speak to other pastors and the community at large.

Minister Salary & Job Growth

Ministry is a calling, but those who are thinking about training for this career must still consider their chances of getting a job. This section discusses the job prospects for ministers, as well as their earning potential.

PayScale details the salaries of ministers and reports that the median annual salary they command is $50,080. In addition, the site includes the following breakdown of how much these professionals earn at different stages of their career.

  • Entry-level ministers (0-5 years of experience) earn $38,000 per year
  • Mid-career ministers (5-10 years of experience) earn $49,000 per year
  • Experienced ministers (10-20 years of experience) earn $52,000 per year
  • Late-career ministers (20+ years of experience) earn $58,000 per year
Alabama Mean wage annual: $47,140
Currently Employed: 440
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%
Alaska Mean wage annual: $56,540
Currently Employed: 130
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Arizona Mean wage annual: $49,380
Currently Employed: 730
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Arkansas Mean wage annual: $45,330
Currently Employed: 380
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%
California Mean wage annual: $60,070
Currently Employed: 5,080
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%
Colorado Mean wage annual: $55,270
Currently Employed: 520
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 34%
Connecticut Mean wage annual: $54,650
Currently Employed: 450
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%
Delaware Mean wage annual: $53,930
Currently Employed: 60
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Florida Mean wage annual: $47,060
Currently Employed: 2,240
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 14%
Georgia Mean wage annual: $52,330
Currently Employed: 720
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Hawaii Mean wage annual: $52,830
Currently Employed: 480
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%
Idaho Mean wage annual: $40,110
Currently Employed: 150
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 24%
Illinois Mean wage annual: $49,260
Currently Employed: 1,980
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 4%
Indiana Mean wage annual: $45,880
Currently Employed: 820
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%
Iowa Mean wage annual: $48,310
Currently Employed: 360
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15%
Kansas Mean wage annual: $44,180
Currently Employed: 380
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%
Kentucky Mean wage annual: $47,320
Currently Employed: 510
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%
Louisiana Mean wage annual: $50,990
Currently Employed: 300
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13%
Maine Mean wage annual: $51,640
Currently Employed: 60
Change in Employment (2016-2026): -2%
Maryland Mean wage annual: $47,190
Currently Employed: 670
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%
Massachusetts Mean wage annual: $59,240
Currently Employed: 590
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 16%
Michigan Mean wage annual: $42,070
Currently Employed: 2,470
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%
Minnesota Mean wage annual: $48,190
Currently Employed: 1,070
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%
Mississippi Mean wage annual: $46,070
Currently Employed: 230
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
Missouri Mean wage annual: $50,660
Currently Employed: 810
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Montana Mean wage annual: $46,610
Currently Employed: 650
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%
Nebraska Mean wage annual: $46,410
Currently Employed: 350
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11%
Nevada Mean wage annual: $51,450
Currently Employed: 150
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18%
New Hampshire Mean wage annual: $55,620
Currently Employed: 90
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11%
New Jersey Mean wage annual: $55,730
Currently Employed: 1,200
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%
New Mexico Mean wage annual: $49,540
Currently Employed: 170
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%
New York Mean wage annual: $54,280
Currently Employed: 8,130
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18%
North Carolina Mean wage annual: $48,440
Currently Employed: 980
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%
North Dakota Mean wage annual: $47,120
Currently Employed: 100
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%
Ohio Mean wage annual: $46,360
Currently Employed: 1,620
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 4%
Oklahoma Mean wage annual: $46,870
Currently Employed: 390
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%
Oregon Mean wage annual: $50,280
Currently Employed: 4,440
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
Pennsylvania Mean wage annual: $47,060
Currently Employed: 2,050
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%
Rhode Island Mean wage annual: $50,540
Currently Employed: 350
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
South Carolina Mean wage annual: $55,710
Currently Employed: 570
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%
South Dakota Mean wage annual: $47,040
Currently Employed: 140
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
Tennessee Mean wage annual: $48,320
Currently Employed: 600
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%
Texas Mean wage annual: $50,500
Currently Employed: 2,920
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Utah Mean wage annual: N/A
Currently Employed: N/A
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Vermont Mean wage annual: $42,780
Currently Employed: 50
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 1%
Virginia Mean wage annual: $40,440
Currently Employed: 1,400
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%
Washington Mean wage annual: $62,050
Currently Employed: 510
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%
West Virginia Mean wage annual: $39,660
Currently Employed: 320
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
Wisconsin Mean wage annual: $48,340
Currently Employed: 600
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%
Wyoming Mean wage annual: N/A
Currently Employed: N/A
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
view more

According to O*NET OnLine, there will be a five to nine percent growth of jobs for ministers between 2016 and 2026, which amounts to 29,200 positions created during this time. The exact number of available minister jobs will be tied to the economy, however, as denominations are unlikely to build new churches during lean economic times.

Finding a Minister Program

Ministers have a huge responsibility to their communities, so they should get the best training available to prepare them for it. This section provides information to help those interested in training for ministry find the school that’s right for them.

Students who enter degree programs have several concerns that guide their decision. Those in search of a degree want to know how much their tuition will cost. Other concerns may include how long it takes to complete a program, whether or not they can earn a certification during their time in the program, and how courses are delivered. Use the following tool to search schools by these criteria and find the program that meets your needs.

Professional Minister Associations & Groups

Being in ministry is all about community, so joining professional associations can help pastors stay connected with each other and learn skills that will make them more effective in their home churches. The following are examples of some of the organizations ministers can become a part of.

Resources for Ministers

In order to be effective in ministry, professionals should always work on sharpening their skills and knowledge. The following resources can help.